Country Music

By Janessa Kuderer

Country Music

Country music is said to have developed in America. It was a hit before the second world war, just like the style of jazz, and later it struggles with the invention of rock and roll. Country music has created its own culture with its own feel, look, and attitude (Shmoop Editorial Team 1). Like every category of music, country has its own history, different genres, its own instruments, and for county music, its own hall of fame. Country music also has the longest living radio station.


Country music started out in America as folk traditions brought over by African slaves and from England. The Shmoop Editorial Team described country music by saying "It grew up poor and isolated in the mountains of Appalachia, and it grew up sun baked and worn down in the rural South. It blew across the plains and deserts of Texas, and it rode the rails from coast to coast. The music sounded a little different from place to place, but it was decidedly rural and tied to the past wherever you went. It was tradition"(1). In other words country music came from different places around the U.S and has a distinct sound in different places thought it comes from the same roots. In 1923 a record company man recorded a fiddler from Georgia, making the first traditional record, and country became commercial music. When it came to the lyrics, love was not a subject well liked, but a hard days work of ranching, mining, logging, and real world experiences were preferred, along with the tragedies of bank robberies, murders, and accidents (Shmoop Editorial Team 3).


Country music has different styles or genres, such as bluegrass. Bluegrass music has roots from the Appalachian Mountains, with a fast, upbeat tempo. The most recognizable style of country music is the honky-tonk. Honky-tonk was mainly played in Oklahoma and Texas in roadside bars and meeting houses (Essortment 2). As claimed by "Another form of the country music style is known as western-country. While honky-tonks were filled with its fans, theaters were filled with fans of the cowboy songs made popular, again, in Texas and Oklahoma" (3). In other words western style, or cowboy music, became popular in theaters such as western movies. The western style of country music comes from the Tennessee hills, the Louisiana bayous, Texas and Oklahoma. The lyrics consisted of the hardships of western frontier life. In the mid 1970's, the outlaw style come about. This genre rebelled against the production system. Another genre of country music is rockabilly. It has some blues mixed in with southern hills music. The style was fast past, much as many Americans found their lives.

String Instruments

Different string instruments make up the sound of country music. The banjo, which was originally brought over by African Americans, plays a part in many different genres. It is considered to be one of the most recognizable instruments. The bass, with its many different forms, plays a part in bluegrass and rockability styles. One of the most important instruments to country music is the fiddle. The fiddle's roots come from the British Isles. According to, "The fiddle lies at the heart of many country music styles" (7). This means that the fiddle was used in different styles of country music. The fiddle was also the first instrument to be recorded in country music. With the guitar, developed in Europe in the 1800s, country music became the most popular style ( 8). In the 18th century, America was also introduced to the zither, a flat box shaped instrument with strings, played on ones lap with a finger pick.

Other Instruments

Other instruments were used in country music. The accordion, an instrument with two sets of keyboards connected by a bellow, was worn like a vest, and particularly used in cowboy/ western style music. The drums were not originally part of country music. As stated by "Drums were scorned by early country musicians as being "too loud" and "not pure"..." (6) In other words, the drums were not a main instrument in country music. Only in the early 60's were drums fully used in bands. In 1820 the harmonic was invented in Europe, and was later use in bluegrass styles. The piano is a wildly used instrument. It became a hit in the 1930's while being used in a western swing style. In the 50's the piano became one of the leading instrument ( 11). The washboard, also called the rub board, was first used by African Americans. A fork or a thimble is pulled across the board to play. The washboard was usually played in bluegrass and zydeco music.

Grand Ole Opry

In the 1900's, in Nashville Tennessee, the National Life & Accident Insurance Company began investing money in radio. They started their own the radio station, WSM or, We Shield Millions in 1924. Their disc jock , George Hay, a fan of hillbilly music, began playing it on Saturday nights. Hay originally called the radio show the Barn Dance, but later changed it to the Grand Ole Opry in 1927 (Gaylord Entertainment Company 8). Soon after, the Opry became one of America's biggest radio shows. Huge crowds would gather to watch the Barn Dance performance which lead to the development of a much larger auditorium. By 1932, the radio station was listened to throughout much of the U.S and Canada. The Opry was relocated several times due to the increase of enthusiasm until, finally, it settled. In 1943, the Grand Ole Opry settled in the Ryman Auditorium. The Grand Ole Opry stayed in the auditorium for 31 years. Again, the Opry grew more popular, and eventually lead to the development of the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974, which become the new home of the Opry. Although it drew large crowds, it took 30 years for the Grand Ole Opry House to surpass the popularity of the Ryman Auditorium. Today, the radio station started by National Life & Accident Insurance Company remains the longest running radio station in the world. As claimed by Gaylord Entertainment Company, "Many things about the Opry have changed over the years - its members, the sound of its music, even its home. But there's always that oak-solid center to remind every singer or musician who steps inside that they take part in something much larger than themselves, ..." (2). In other words, the Grand Ole Opry, thought having changed in many ways, is a symbol to the past and future country singers.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

As claimed by, "In 1961 the Country Music Association (CMA) announced the creation of the Country Music Hall of Fame and chose its first three inductees; Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, and Fred Rose" (3). In other words, the country music hall of fame was to to honor the great singers in country music. It was not until 1963, that the location for the hall of fame was announced. It was to be placed on Music Row, in Nashville, Tennessee ( 3). On April 1st, 1967 the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was opened. It was later closed on the 31st of December, 2000 due to the expansion of the museum. With the closing of the old hall of fame, a new building was created a few blocks away. On May 17th, 2001, the hall of fame had its grand opening of the new $37,000,000 Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Work Cited

  1. "Country Music Hall of Fame." Country Music Hall of Fame. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. <>.
  2. "Grand Ole Opry." Grand Ole Opry. A Gaylord Entertainment® Company, 2011. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. <>.
  3. "The History Of Country Music." Essortment. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. <>.
  4. "INSTRUMENTS IN COUNTRY MUSIC." Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. INSTRUMENTS IN COUNTRY MUSIC, n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. <>.
  5. N.d. Photograph. A Brief Country Music History. 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. <>.
  6. N.d. Photograph. America, Eh? 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. <>.
  7. N.d. Photograph. Florida's Premiere Bluegrass Band. 2010. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. <>
  8. N.d. Photograph. That Nashville Sound. 1 Nov. 2010. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. <>.
  9. Phelps, Patrick. N.d. Photograph. How to Play the Guitar and Harmonica Together. 1999. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. <>
  10. Shmoop Editorial Team. "Country Music History" Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 16 Oct. 2012